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SDR for Hackers: The DragonOS for Software Defined Radio

Welcome back, my aspiring radio hackers!

Radio hacking using inexpensive SDR's is the state-of-the art in hacking. So many communication mediums using radio waves that the list could fill this tutorial but a few include;

  1. Bluetooth

  2. Cellular phones

  3. Satellite phones

  4. Wi-Fi

  5. National defense and Police radio

  6. Satellite communication

  7. Remote controls

  8. GPS

  9. NFC

  10. Automobile key fobs

...the list could go on and on.

Many of the tools in this field are open-source with a significant list of dependencies. This can mean hours of downloading and configuring applications and dependencies. Thankfully, we now have a operating system with nearly all the applications and dependencies pre-installed!


DragonOS is a custom Linux distribution designed for software-defined radio (SDR) enthusiasts and professionals. It comes pre-installed with a wide range of tools and software for SDR, such as GNU Radio, GQRX, and various other utilities for capturing, analyzing, and manipulating radio signals. DragonOS aims to provide a ready-to-use environment for SDR experimentation and research, without the need for extensive setup and configuration.

DragonOS is built upon Lubuntu, a fork of the Ubuntu Linux distribution.

Step 1: Downloading and Installing Dragon OS

DragonOS can be downloaded from Sourceforge at the following URL.

Once the ISO download is complete, you can either install it on your baremetal computer or a virtual machine such Oracle's VirtualBox. When it is complete, it should look like the screenshot below.

Step#2 Navigating Dragon OS

DragonOS has a large number of SDR tools built-in. Most of these are already compiled and ready to use. Most importantly, many of the tools use specialized libraries for their functioning and these are installed as well (you can do all this yourself on you Ubuntu or Debian distribution but it can take many frustating hours).

The tools are available in two places on the menu system;

  1. Other

  2. Hamradio

When we navigate to the menu items, you can see the expanded list of SDR tools.

Just like other Ubuntu and Debian distributions, you can open a terminal and run the tools from a command-line. Nearly all of the tools are located at the /usr/src directory.

To see all of the software in one place, navigate to /usr/src such as;

live > cd /usr/src

live > ls


DragonOS is the ideal operating system for working Software Defined Radio! It's built upon Lubuntu giving us all the capabilities of a well-known Linux distribition with hundreds of tools built-in with all their dependencies. This makes SDR Hacking so much easier.

For more tutorials on SDR for Hackers, click here.

We will be using this Linux distribution throughout all of SDR Hacking courses including;

  1. SDR for Hackers

  2. Advanced SDR for Hackers

  3. Satellite Hacking

  4. Car Hacking and more!

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